The Cornell Lab Bird Academy Discussion Groups Joy of Birdwatching Activities: Local Bird Exploration

    • Jamies
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      In Calgary, Alberta, Canada, the mostly likely birds seen almost all year round are Canada Goose, black-billed magpies and American Crows. They are seen almost everywhere in the city.  It is still pretty hot outside. Maybe go out another time to see other birds.
    • Cindy
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Activity 1:  Sat on my deck in central IL for 45 minutes and several birds came to my feeder.  A white breasted nuthatch, a pair of house finches, a pair of house sparrows, a pair of cardinals, a pair of blue jays, a robin sat on the fence, a pair of red-bellied woodpeckers climbed in the upper parts of my ginkgo tree and a goldfinch flew by without stopping.  Very fun.  I'm beginning to differentiate their calls.
    • Kimberly
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      Five birds that I did not know passed through our area the Cackling Goose, the Yellow Billed Cuckoo, a Chick Wills Widow, and Eastern Wood Peewee and a Wood Thrush. Yesterday on my bird walk, I heard both the Wood Thrush and the Yellow Billed Cuckoo. Turns out I have been hearing them in my yard for years. I just didn't know what they were. Very fun to learn. download This picture is of the yellow billed cuckoo. I also heard many Carolina Wrens and Cardinals while out walking. I love the Merlin's tool for listening to bird calls. I have always felt my hearing was not discerning enough to differentiate bird calls, but I am learning! It is very fun.
    • Bill
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Activity 2 Merlin's most likely is a feature I hadn't used before.  Very interesting and helpful tool.
    • Janet
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      Activity 1: I saw a variety of birds, many that i know, especially the Cape Weaver which is very common in our area. I did see 4 birds that I have not seen before. The first bird "White-faced whistling duck" (Dendrocyna viduata) there were two of them sleeping in a standing position on the edge of a dam in the reeds. The 2nd bird I am still not able to identify it is a small stocky bird with a sharp heavy black bill and as I was looking into the sun it was difficult to be sure but I could see tinges of yellow and black - it could of been a cape weaver, but is was much smaller. The 3rd bird "Karoo Prinia" sitting on an electricity wire. The 4th bird "Yellow Canary" also sitting on an electricity wire.      
    • C
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      This morning I woke up to the sounds of a Carolina Wren and a Worm-eating Warbler.  I was able to see both of them from my window, as well as a Mourning Dove and several House Sparrows.
    • mei
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Activity #1 - Sitting in my backyard for morning coffee, I saw 5 house finches, 2 morning doves, 1 Anna's Hummingbird and 2 Allen's Humming birds, 1 spotted towhee, 1 song sparrow, 3 lesser gold finches, 1 black phoebe, and 1 mocking bird.
    • Chris
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      I spent time in ebird checking out new birding spots near me.  Level of detail was great.  Very informative. I also listened to a local WBU podcast regarding setting up bird feeders which is something that interests me.  There’s a lot to learn.
    • rita
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      activity # 1- I spent time watching the bird cam today and saw a couple different woodpeckers, one red bellied and I think the other was a hairy woodpecker. There were turning doves, starlings, a cardinal. I used field guides, Merlin, and bird today.  recorded my first sighting in EBird- I recorded the red-bellied woodpecker. I think the it must be lying in a tree nearby as the tree has cavities and I see this bird somewhat often. activity #2- I saw a cardinal, a pair of house sparrows, two goldfinches, a black capped chickadee, a red bellied woodpecker, several blue jays. They were just out and about and at the bird feeder. activity #3- lots of the warbler species fly through here on their migrations between Canada and central and south America. Their maps are really fun to watch. Other birds seen in migration are the red-necked grebe, which according to the map should never be seen here, the Ruby-throated kinglet, which flies down to Central American, then through Michigan and back up to Canada, Lincoln's Sparrow, which flies through Michigan all the way up to Alaska and then back down to Central America, Swainson's thrush, which makes it all the way down to South America and then back up to Canada, and finally the Rusty Blackbird, which flies through Michigan on its way north to the upper half of Canada and Alaska, and back down south to the upper half of Florida and Texas. I don't know that I've ever seen any of them.
    • rita
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      Activity #1, part 1 Today I heard many birds but didn't get to see very many. I have a new pair of binoculars, and the first bird that I was able to see through them was a hummingbird. Hummingbirds spend a lot of time at the monarda in the garden, but also travel from plant to plant. My favorite way to feed the birds has been to have plants that they like, but today I put out bird feeders with seed and suet and suet cakes around the garden. I heard a cardinal, a woodpecker, a jay, m goldfinches, chickadees, and a few others. I plan on watching BirdCam ad trying to identify more birds. I have been listening to a video of birds and their bird songs from my region. I find that I am not as up on my birdsongs as I thought. Even though I was up quite earl this mornings I was unable to identify very many birds by their songs. There was definitely a cardinal this morning singing quite boldly, but I could not find it to view it or take a photo. So I am creating a bird watching area out of my own yard, using my house as a sort of blind. I can go from room to room and see areas of the garden out different windows. Then there is a park next to the house and there should be more birding opportunities there. But using ebird I have also discovered that there are several hotspots in and around Ann Arbor, and a large variety of birds to be seen, if I just get out and about in the parks and nature areas.
    • Eric
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      Activity 1: After 15 minutes, I saw and heard:
      • Puerto Rican Woodpecker
      • Puerto Rican Oriole
      • Puerto Rican Tody
      • Puerto Rican Bullfinch
      • Puerto Rican Emerald
      • Red-tailed Hawk
      • American Kestrel
      • Loggerhead Kingbird
      • Gray Kingbird
      • Scaly-naped Pigeon
      • White-winged Dove
      • Antillean Euphonia
      • Orange-cheeked Waxbill
      • Black-whiskered Vireo
      • Pearly-eyed Thrasher
      • Greater Antillean Grackle
      • Bananaquit
      • Black-faced Grassquit
    • Eva
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      Activity 2: Merlin gave me many likely birds that I could see today, and the top 5 were: the Rufous-collared Sparrow, the Clay-colored Thrush, the Blue-and-white Swallow, the Great Kiskadee, and the Blue-gray tanager. I have seen all of those species around here. Activity 3: the 5 birds that I didn't know passed through here are: the Blue-vented Hummingbird, the Collared Redstart, the Flame-throated Warbler, the Ringed Kingfisher (the largest kingfisher in the Americas), and the Sooty Thrush, which has a marvelous song. These are only a few from the long list of Likely Birds near me that Merlin listed.
    • Montana
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      Activity #2 & #3: Apparently we can see hummingbirds, chimney swifts, and Northern Rough Winged Swallows where I live. I have never seen these during my trips outside. I've seen hummingbirds only at feeders in regions north of me and south of me. I would love to see one in the wild! I'll have to try activity #1 when the rain stops here!
    • Matthew
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Activity 3: I decided to learn more about birds I had heard of but didn't know to look for. It turns out chimney swifts are everywhere, and I've probably seen a lot of them and had no idea what they were! Yellow-billed cuckoos look almost too tropical to live near me, so I hope I get to see one. Also learned more about great horned owls, american kestrels (oh boy are those guys cute!), and eastern kingbirds.
    • Lisa
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      I watched the birds cams for the first time and they are amazing! The Red Tail Hawk cam showed first attempts at flight. The cam at Sapsucker Woods is very busy! There were a lot of Starlings, a Nuttall’s Woodpecker, a Mourning Dove, a Red Winged Blackbird, and a Blue Jay while I watched.
    • Activity 1: Pick a birdwatching spot in your area. It could be out your window, at a local park, or a nearby nature preserve. Or try watching a BirdCam—feeder cams are an especially good choice for seeing different species! Just watch birds for a good 15 minutes. Make a note of all the birds you see or hear.<p> I sat  at Shilshol Bay Marina in Seattle for about half an hour. It was late in the afternoon, around 4pm (next time I'll go early in the morning). I saw the following * rock pigeons * Glaucous Gulls * American crows, lots of them * a small brown bird that I could not clearly identify. I noted the following: smaller than a crow, larger than a sparrow, round body; longish tail, beak slightly smaller than head;  its flight pattern had a rapid beating then short glide, bobbing up and down. A chirping call.<p> I was feeling pretty disappointed with this visit, as I could have seen all of these birds from my yard (well, I might have had to walk down to the corner store to see the pigeons). Then, just as I was preparing to go, I saw what I later realized was pigeons mating - https://youtu.be/5Moiesnn7bI.<p> Activity 2: Use Merlin’s “Most Likely” species feature to find out what birds you are likely to see locally today. If you can, go out and try to find some of them. Be sure to listen to their call and song on Merlin. Maybe it’s a song you’ve heard before, but you didn’t know who made it!<p> I've decided to make this activity my summer project.  I'd like to learn more about 3 birds a week from the Most Likely list in my area. There are 195 birds on the list in Merlin. I will start with the 16 birds on the Common Urban Bird list from the Seattle Audubon (which I just joined) - http://www.seattleaudubon.org/sas/About/Conservation/UrbanHabitat/UrbanHabitatandBirds/CommonUrbanBirds.aspx.
    • Aidan
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Going out around my complex I saw: 3 Anna's Hummingbirds, 3 Black Phoebes, 1 American Crow, 1 Tree Swallow, 2 Red-breasted Nuthatches, 3 American Robins, 6 House Finches, 12 Lesser Goldfinches, 9 Dark-eyed Juncos (a few juvenile), and 1 California Towhee. Quite a nice ecosystem for an apartment complex!
    • Daniel
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Activity 1: Looking at the bird feeder in my backyard, I saw: White-Breasted Nuthatch Blue Jay Red-Bellied Woodpecker Mourning Dove The lighting wasn't great at the time I did this so I saw some silhouettes but couldn't tell what they were.   Additionally, I heard: Black-Capped Chickadee and several other calls I didn't recognize.
    • Liz
      Participant
      Chirps: 14
      I forgot to add the variety of wood peckers I have around my home. And the raucous blue jays In winter the downy and hairy wood peckers and the red breasted and white nut hatches are always at my suet. In the forest near me I can finally distinguish between the sounds of the northern flicker and the piliated wood pecker. Occupationally I see the little brown creeper. And on a rare occasion a yellow bellied sap sucker will visit.
    • Liz
      Participant
      Chirps: 14
      In front of my home is a good sized river where I see a multitude of ducks migrating in the spring. The great blue heron and some Canada geese stay for the summer. I was so excited to hear the american bittern last week. Behind me is forest so I am learning some of the various birds here. So fascinating. But now I am more able to pick out the many songs and realize all the ones I still do not know. What variety. The first bird I hear in the morning is the pine warbler, then the robin, soon followed by the song sparrow and the red eyed vireo. Ravens, crows, mourning doves, red winged black birds, grackles, chipping sparrows, oven birds, ruby throated hummingbirds and phoebes are common also. Others that I hear less common on my bike rides beside the forest are: blue headed vireo, chestnut sided warbler, yellow rumped warbler, cat bird, veery, wood thrush and one of my favourites: common yellow throated warbler. I took a bike ride to some open farm fields and saw a black bird on a wire. I assumed it to be a red winged black bird but when it took off I could see white patches and heard an intricate long pretty song. I had to go hunting in my bird book and asked the Cornell Lab of Ornithology bird song collection to discover it to be a bobolink. The variety of life, or all our fellow creatures astounds me! DSC08855
    • Jennifer
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      Activity 2: On today's walk with the dog, I was able to see some American Robin, Mourning Doves, Barn Swallows, Blue Jays, and House Finches. The Mourning Dove was nice see. I typically only notice the Eurasian Collared Doves, so I'm always happy to see the native birds around. I was also surprised to see a Western Kingbird, which according to Merlin is a most likely species, but I've never seen them in my neighborhood.
    • Meghan
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      Yay! this was a helpful section. I figured out how to use Ebird a little bit better, to look up the hot spot and then record a track of neighborhood nature trail and birdwatching area Spenard Crossing in Anchorage Alaska. I didn't know there had been 130 species recorded at this little gem! I was hoping to see a redhed, I'll have to go back. I saw 6 species on my walk.
    • Terry
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      After the rain stopped (June 24th in the afternoon) the feeder on my back deck got busy again.  Goldfinches, titmice, nuthatches, downy woodpecker, house finch, and chipping sparrow have all been regular visitors. House Finch 1Male Goldfinch
    • Terry
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      While it poured rain at my home this afternoon, I spent several peaceful minutes watching the Cornell FeederWatch cam.  Immediately I recognized the blue jay, the grackles, and the male cardinal. A woodpecker appeared but was hidden by one of the feeders.  I noticed a red patch but I couldn't tell how large the bird was until it moved to another perch.  Hairy, for sure!  And a little while later, a red-bellied woodpecker!  Red-winged blackbirds, several mourning doves, and the cardinal front and center on the platform feeder.   I recognized the call of the mourning doves and the squeak of their wings.  The red-bellied woodpecker has moved from feeder to feeder, snacking from each one. Here are two I need help with: Screen Shot 2020-06-24 at 2.49.49 PMScreen Shot 2020-06-24 at 2.49.36 PM
    • Karen
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      June 23: a pair of  Carolina wrens  built a nest in a flower pot outside our kitchen window in southern Rhode Island. We saw them bringing bits of twigs & grass for the nest most of Saturday. We can't see into the nest, but we see one or both of the adults generally around 5:30 AM and at our dinner time. Most of the day the nest is completely quiet, so we're never sure if the birds are still around until one shows up. watering the flowers and working in our kitchen are challenges. In the woods near our house we saw an Orchard oriole nest last week. When I first saw the male near the nest I didn't recognize it as an oriole at first: it is much darker orange-red (the Sibley's calls it chestnut) and slimmer than the Baltimores that I'm more used to. We saw both parents bringing food. The nest was quiet this morning and no sight of the adults.